How do I manage people who are older than me?

If you’re clever about your career, have a good work ethic, and communicate well with people, it’s likely that you will become a leader or manager of sorts. With a senior position comes greater responsibility, and importantly the management of staff.

A good leader identifies each member of his/her team as an individual; getting to know how each of them operate, their skills, and their personality.

This is especially key when it comes to manage a team of varying age, and, even more specifically, handling the difficult situation of managing employees who are older than you.

We’ve put together a number of tried and proven methods of approach when it comes to managing those team members who have been working for longer than you.

Appreciate their experience

Just because you are now a manager, it doesn’t mean that you should suddenly begin disrespecting your former co-workers, it means the opposite. You should show them respect, no matter their age.

However, when it comes to managing older staff, you will need to adopt a subtle, sophisticated approach. One thing that you should utilise for the better of your team is the experience that your older members are sure to have. Naturally they will want to share relevant career experiences in the right scenario in any case, and they will respect you even more as a leader if you ask them to do so.

Reaching out for advice is one of the strongest signs of respect, and with the extra responsibility of managing staff you will want your elder employees to have your back when under tough a tough deadline or situation.

Also, you should encourage them to share their experience with you and their team even when you don’t ask them yourself. Remember, as greater responsibility comes with management, greater responsibility also comes with age.


With the older members of your team, you should consider developing a more collaborative approach, bouncing ideas off of them and asking them questions about their opinion. Whilst they need to know that you are the decision maker of the team, and the buck stops with you, a slightly more liberal approach to the older members of your team could help encourage a more pleasant working atmosphere, and encourage them to operate at their full potential.

Let them make their own decisions

Whilst younger employees need nurturing and guidance, older employees need more freedom. Let them have more flexibility over office hours and holiday allowance, and be confident that they will make the right choice on their own. Figure out their strengths, and let them focus on them.

Be modest

To be an effective leader, you need a team behind you that believe in you. You will need to earn the respect of the older members of your team, you can do this by portraying yourself as a modest individual who doesn’t boast about your achievements etc – a lot of youngsters make this mistake, to the annoyance of their elder colleagues and peers. Instead be intelligent in your approach when talking about your past successes, and focus more on what you older team members have achieved. Remember, you’re a manager for a reason, which your team should appreciate in itself; they shouldn’t require you to constantly remind them why.

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